New fracking rules give area 'more protection', says council leader

Published on: 08 Aug 2014

The leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council says he feels new rules on fracking will give Bath's ancient Hot Springs “even more protection”.

Four licences had been granted to companies hoping to carry out exploratory drilling in the district, including at Hicks Gate, but three of these have since been handed back to the Government, including the licence covering Keynsham.

Councillor Paul Crossley said the Government had used “strong terminology” in setting out guidelines for fracking in sensitive areas.

His comments came as a new round of bidding for the right to frack in areas across the UK was launched, opening up a swathe of land across the country including the whole of B&NES and the Mendip Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Government, however, said there would be tough criteria for those bidding to explore the potential of the country’s beauty spots.

Mr Crossley said: “The Government’s new rules refer to fracking only being permitted in such areas as Bath and North East Somerset in ‘wholly exceptional’ circumstances.

“This is very strong terminology which we feel offers Bath’s Hot Springs even more protection than before.”

The council leader had written to Energy Minister Michael Fallon early in July to express concern at the potential for damage to the Hot Springs after the fourth fracking licence, covering an area around Midsomer Norton, was extended for a year by UK Methane Ltd, the operator behind the proposals for Hicks Gate.

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